Following a divorce, grandparents are often concerned about whether they will continue to have time with their grandchildren, particularly if the parent who has primary custody is on the other side of the family. The parents and the grandparents may come to an agreement about when the grandchildren will spend time with the grandparents. However, if the parents refuse visitation, in some situations, the grandparents may petition the court to request enforceable visitation rights.
Petition for Visitation Overview
Generally, grandparents will not be successful in a petition for visitation if the parents are happily married and the children live with their parents. However, if the parents are in the process of getting a divorce, annulment or legal separation, the grandparents may petition the family court for visitation. The petition may be filed at any time after the proceedings begin, even if the divorce is already finalized, up to the time when the child reaches the age of majority.
Visitation Without Divorce
Apart from divorce proceedings, grandparents may also petition the court for visitation if one parent dies or if the child has lived with the grandparents. If the child lives with the grandparents for 12 months or longer, and then the parents remove the child from the grandparents' home, the grandparents may petition the court for visitation. The petition may be filed regardless of whether the parents are undergoing a divorce.
Although certain situations will allow grandparents in Minnesota to file for visitation, the family court will only grant visitation if it is in the best interest of the child and if it will not interfere with the relationship between the parents and the child. In making the determination, the court may consider the strength of the relationship between the grandparents and the child and how much time the grandparents have spent with the child. At the hearing for visitation, the grandparents may provide testimony of time spent with the child and evidence of letters and gifts from the child to demonstrate the importance of their relationship with the child.
If the grandparents file a petition for visitation and it is denied by the family court, they must wait at least six months before filing another petition. The grandparents may not continually harass the parents with repeated motions. However, the parents and the grandparents may agree in writing that the new petition may be filed sooner than six months.